Student Life


The reality which faces all undergraduate students in the UK is that a degree is no longer enough to demand a prosperous career. Long gone are the days where a degree was so highly valued that it was enough to employ somebody on that merit alone. Often the response to telling an employer that you have graduated university with a degree is: ‘who hasn’t?’

Of course the university and the class of degree are factors; a first from Oxford or Cambridge is still probably enough for almost any job. But for the vast majority of students, extra curricular activity and experience in the working world will be pivotal when applying for a place in the real world. And really, why should ‘just’ a degree be enough?

University undergraduates will usually have between 8 and 25 timetabled hours per week depending on course subject. In fairness learning at university is mainly independent; tutorials, lectures, and seminars are really just to keep the undergraduates on the right track and the real learning and progress comes in the library in personal time.

It is very harsh to stereotype students as lazy kids who only care about going out and can’t be bothered to face reality in a proper working place.

Yes, there are certain students who fit this generalisation, but the vast majority do not. Most work very hard to get the best degree that they’re capable of and several people use university to join societies or sports teams to enhance their knowledge, social skills, and competitiveness.

Moreover numerous students work part-time commonly in retail or catering to support their usually very tight budget. The vast majority of undergraduate university students are trying to better themselves and not simply wasting three years of their lives to avoid work.

The advantages of working whilst studying are almost endless. Extra money is the obvious motivation and a lot of students are living on such a small amount of money that they will do almost anything to pick up a little bit extra.

Universities usually advise around 15 hours per week as a maximum for part-time work; anything more and studies begin to become damaged. It is not usually the case for students to be working in the industry which they one day hope to settle, but any experience and willingness to graft at work rather than sitting around and moaning about a hangover is seen as favourable on a CV.

Although some may argue that being in a society or sports team at University helps employability enough, and working, even if only part-time, just gets in the way of studying and will end up being detrimental to the quality of the final degree.

In reality there is nothing stopping students from working, being in a society, and getting a really solid degree. Obviously the work load would be harder to stay on top of and there would be some late nights in the library when all that’s craved is a good eight hours in bed.

Being an undergraduate student is a time to be savoured. In those three or four years every opportunity should be grasped and new things should be experienced whenever possible. Graduating with a 2:1 is great, hugely impressive in fact. But sadly that’s not what employers are looking for anymore.

Generally employers want ‘all-rounders’, intelligent with a good degree, a few years of experience in a work place, and evidence that the time spent and qualities gained at university have been maximised either through societies or sports teams. It is difficult to do all of these things; it takes a lot of sacrifice and hard work, but, if achieved, the rewards can be immense.

Written by George Bowes